Brexit is under way, like it or not, and that is what a local paper in southern Spain pointed out to its British readers this week. The newspaper referred to them to them as the "three monkeys", pointing out that the referendum has taken place and the majority of Britons, if only slim, voted to leave Britain. In short the message was shut up and get on with it, you decided to leave. And to be honest, I agree. If you don’t like it, move back to the UK or elsewhere, don’t start trying to tell the Spanish what to do. To start with, we don’t know what is going to happen; they don’t like it, would you? And, in the end it’s up to Brussels.

Anyway, forget the ‘whingeing poms’, as we are becoming known in Spain, and look at the bigger picture of the European Union. The Eurozone’s greatest threat may no longer centre on countries such as Greece and Portugal dragging it down, but instead on the prospect that its third largest economy, Italy, could abandon ship.

A Reuters report last week revealed that two recent economic studies show what the euro has meant to Italians and why polls suggest they are no longer keen. One suggests they are poorer as a result of being part of the currency bloc, the other that they are falling further behind their counterparts in main trading partner Germany. It is a distant risk to the currency bloc that Italy will actually walk away, but not beyond imagination.

Italy’s Five Star Movement, which wants to dump the euro through a referendum, has been surging in opinion polls recently, getting as much as a third of the vote in a March Corriere della Sera poll. The anti-European Union Northern League got another 12 or so per cent - and there are others.

But actually leaving the Eurozone would come down to whether Italian voters believe fifteen years or so of the currency has been good or bad for them.

The recent analyses suggest it has been the latter.


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Andy Rawson / Hace over 4 years

Italy is the biggest of the PIGs; relative GDP scales Portugal 230; Ireland 246; Greece 238; Italy 2147!


Oliver Neilson / Hace over 4 years

...and Italy, unlike Greece and Portugal, is way too big to bail out. If Italy sinks economically, it takes the Euro with it.


Andy Rawson / Hace over 4 years

Italy has the second highest debt to GDP in Europe (behind Greece) at 132 percent, nearly double what Germany's is.